Musical Monday: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Posted on February 12, 2007

Yes kids, it’s time again! Seven Brides for Seven Brothers! A colorful, Cinemascope salute to ignorance, misogyny and Stockholm Syndrome from the Golden Age of movie musicals!

Our story starts with Howard Keel as Adam Pontipee, an ignorant backwoodsman who opens up the movie by sauntering through the tiny Oregon town of Backlotsville, loudly singing that he wants hisself a wife and obnoxiously pointing out the physical flaws of every woman he passes on the street. This is meant to endear us to him.

Then he meets Jane Powell as Milly. She offers him stew, which in 1850 Oregon is a form of foreplay.
Later, over a cow, Adam proposes to her. You see, beef products played a huge part in courtship rituals back then. Inexplicably, the seemingly intelligent Milly accepts his ridiculous offer and decides to marry him right there and ride off into the woods with him.
Then again, Milly is a special girl, given to melodramatic singing in front of poorly painted backdrops.

Oh calm down, we love Jane Powell. Her style of performing is outmoded by a half-century but she had a beautiful voice and a simple, clear, All-American appeal perfectly suited for the genre.
Adam takes Milly back to the homestead (which looks like Green Acres), where she is introduced to his 6 inbred toothless brothers.

Inside their quaint rustic shithole, the brothers, elevated to a sexual frenzy by the mere presence of someone without a penis, work off their frustrations with a rousing fistfight.
Jane has an 1850 version of a feminist moment. “I’ll show those ignorant apes! Why, I’ll clean the SHIT outta this place!”

Yeah, she didn’t exactly think that one through.
When the boys don’t appreciate her hard work, she has her “Color Purple” moment and flips out on them.
Then she tells Adam he ain’t gettin’ none of this any time soon.
The next morning, she tries a new approach. After stealing all their clothes, she stands outside the boys’ room yelling sexual profanities in order to humiliate them.
The foggy, unfocussed minds of these toothless morons can’t handle it and react with fear.

This is the cover to about a thousand gay porn DVDs.
She forces them to walk around the cabin naked and engage in shaving rituals in order to humiliate them and bend them to her will. Adam is apparently off masturbating his frustrations away while all this is going on.
The humiliation and torture continue as the quick-witted girl from town exerts her will over her unsophisticated in-laws.

Finally, the boys are whipped into such a sexual frenzy by her machinations, that they lose whatever cognitive functions they may ever have had and become her slaves totally.
Milly then discovers several hundred boxes of Rit dye in the barn and forces the boys to dress as a walking rainbow flag as they head into town for a barn raising.
The townsmen think they look ridiculous but the ladies (fresh from their own turn in the Rit dye vat) moisten at the sight of these shaved oddities.
The boys, ignorant and overwhelmed, perform like monkeys in order to impress the girls.

In all seriousness, choreographer Michael Kidd had a knack for devising routines for men that were sexy and masculine. His work here is genius because he innately understood that if these characters were dancing in a more standard style, it never would have worked.
Instead he had these rough and tumble manly men characters flip and jump and basically just spew testosterone all over the crowd.

Meanwhile, the girls, desperate to get some real action in a town full of effete jerks, express their approval in their own adorably unsophisticated way.
The townsmen don’t like that much and in short order, the seven Pontipee brothers dispense of every man in the town and accidentally destroy the barn in the process.
When they all started laughing about it we realized: we’re watching a movie about a bunch of major league assholes.

Who wear their pants way too high.
The boys head back to the homestead, horny and frustrated, where they play with their axes.
This is another hot, masculine routine that really is all about their horniness. A masterpiece of subtext.

Did we mention that it was hot?
Adam, fresh from another marathon of masturbation, whips the boys up by questioning their masculinity and singing to them about how kidnapping and threatening to rape women is a great way to meet them.

Adam’s a HUGE asshole.

The boys, who worship their tyrannical, sociopathic older brother, ride into town and KIDNAP THE WOMEN and LAUGH AT THEIR SOBBING. Good clean musical fun; right?

Milly at least had the good sense to be appalled. She rips Adam a new asshole. Adam decides they need a break and rides off, indicating that his lawyer will be in touch. Milly sends the boys off to the barn and she takes over the house with the girls.
Where they all spend a lot of time standing around in their underwear. What is it with the air in these mountains? Everyone either acts like an asshole or they’re inappropriately sexual all the time.
Julie Newmar, seven feet of sexual fabulosity with a 16-inch waist, can’t take the thin mountain air anymore and succumbs to cabin fever.
The rest of the girls quickly follow suit.
One by one, we watch their sanity crumble as civilization is stripped away from them.
By the time the snow melts, every single person on this homestead is acting like a total asshole.
He kidnapped you and laughed at you, you stupid bitch.

What is WRONG with these girls?
Okay, you know what? You’re all assholes. You deserve each other.
The girls, displaying their new mountain-born sociopathy, lie to their fathers about having a child out of wedlock and trick the townsmen into letting them marry their kidnappers. The townsmen, as disgusted as we are at this point, go through the motions of a shotgun wedding and head off that mountain as soon as they can, cursing their idiotic womenfolk the whole time, their masculinity shattered by a bunch of dancing morons in neon shirts and too-high pants. The End.

Next week: Life is a Cabaret, old chum.


Please review our Community Guidelines before posting a comment. Thank you!

  • thombeau

    This movie is a big ol’ MANPILE and I love it!

    You guys are TOO MUCH FUN! What else can I say?

  • Toran23

    Ahhh, 7 Brides for 7 Brothers. A Hollywood classic brought to life by your vibrant commentary. I used to watch this movie with my grandmother when I was a little girl and think to myself, “So THAT’S how you get a husband.” Damn musical brainwashing. But still, it’s a lovely musical and one of my favs. You have great taste and are, as always, appropriatly snarky. Cheers!

  • ToddNY

    OHMYGOD this is so funny!!! I’ll never be able to watch a movie again without thinking about you bitches.

  • Anonymous

    As a gay tween, I loved watching the old musicals on Sunday mornings.

    Better than going to Church. And I have a girly man crush on the Seven Brides movie, for just the reason the GayBoys so aptly describe …

    Those pent-up sexualized he-man dance numbers … burly outdoorsmen, dancing, TOGETHER with EACH OTHER, mind you, while the women were around just for show.

    This is truly the BrokeBack Mountain musical, before its time.

    As it is now, I still get crushes on big, burly assholes who take what they want, when they want it.

    Even all that is wrong about the movie is what I love about it.

    And those rainbow RIT dye shirts? Lord have mercy, how gay rainbow 1970s was that?

    This movie is just ahead a head of its time.

    Perhaps gay musical director Bill Conden can forget Dreamgirls and do something like Seven Burly Brutes for Seven Sexy Twinks.

    Just dreamin …

    You two keep up the good work. Love the new series.

    After all, what good is sitting alone in a room, when you can check up on the gay boys who dish, tell and rip.

  • Anonymous

    P.S. Where in the hell did you find the Gay Musical Diva Love Boat musical fiasco number?

    Lord have mercy, that was truly a gold lame find.

  • Anonymous

    P.P.S. When do you watch the movies to blog about?

    Invite me over next time. It sounds like a party waiting to happen.

    Just sayin.

  • Muse of Ire

    You boys have perfectly encapsulated my feelings about this movie.

    Rape is just good clean American fun. Just the sort of message that makes a girl feel really good about herself.

    But that Julie Newmar really is about 9 different kinds of gorgeous, isn’t she?

  • yawningdog

    Quoting Muse of Ire:
    “Rape is just good clean American fun. Just the sort of message that makes a girl feel really good about herself.”

    Just like the message of ‘Grease’ is giving into peer pressure and dressing like a hooker will get you the guy of your dreams.

    God, I love that movie.

  • chicksinger

    Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha! Effin’ brilliant. The only good thing about this movie is the barn raising dance number. And when I say “good,” I mean “doesn’t make me want to gouge out my own ears and eyes.” Was this ever considered anything but incredibly old-fashioned, even by 1950s standards? Even by 1850s standards? Ack. I lost more than a little respect for one friend when she told me how romantical she thought this movie was.

    I much prefer your version.

  • GG

    You. Must. Do. West. Side. Story.

    pretty please?

  • Granite Janet

    Rape only hurts if you fight it.

    Love the story line — I really have to unchain myself from this desk and go rent some movies.

  • Anonymous

    I remember watching this moving when I was a young girl and thinking “so that’s what men do when they are trying to win your hand in marriage.”
    Think GOD I also watched stuff like Mary Tyler Moore that showed young girls that marriage wasn’t the only thing a woman could dream of.

  • Pittypat

    OMG! I must have watched these old movies with my brain out of gear when I was young. I didn’t remember ANY of that stuff – a whole WORLD of nuances I failed to pick up on. What a hoot – and a worthy predecessor to Grease, I agree! Keep it up, Boys. You are sending me back to the video store.

  • loyal kitten

    Oh wow. I can’t stop laughing hysterically! So perfect. And Cabaret? I may die of anticipation. Thank you thank you thank you gay boys! Lots of hag love coming your way.

  • Anonymous

    I LOVE musical mondays!! They are hilarious!!

  • Bill

    gay tidbit – Julie Newmar’s sister in SBfSB is played by Sheila Kuehl (Zelda from the Dobie Gillis TV series).

    Sheila is an amazing, brilliant (Harvard Law grad) Lesbian. She has served in the California legislature as a Congresswoman (6 yrs, first openly gay state legislator in CA, and first female Speaker Pro Temp)and then as a Senator (currently serving her second 4 yr term).

  • Anonymous

    You forgot about the beastiality in the number with the axes.
    “Man can’t get no sleep, when he sleeps with sheep”
    This movie is fantastically weird. Love it.

  • Bill

    In addition to the vat of RIT dye (hyetrical, boys), what about the vat of Henna Rinse for the seven brothers? I’ve had a soft spot for redheads ever since.

    This movie is also likely the reason that I was unusually fixiated on my “Big Josh” action figure as a child. I was just waiting to be carried away by a bearded mountain man.

    With the exception of a Cher doll, Big Jim was the gayest action figure going in the 70’s. I had them all!

    77 yr old Jane Powell is still working! She recently starred in Sondheim's latest show, Bounce, in its 2004 Chicago & DC tryouts (it never made it to Broadway). Powell has been married 5 times – her current husband is former Little Rascal Dickie Moore.

    And one of the seven brothers was played by the future great ballet dancer & choreographer Jacques d'Amboise. His daughter Charlotte is currently starring as Cassie in the Broadway revival of
    A Chorus Line.

    Goodness, these Muscial Mondays get my motor gunning. Sorry for rambling.

  • Yomanda

    Can’t wait for Cabaret. That is my all-time favorite Broadway show. Not so crazy about the movie, but I can’t wait to see what you guys say about it.

  • terri

    I am HOWLING over here!

    I watched that movie and felt the same way- like how is kidnapping the best way to get a girl to LIKE you…

    And then it works! Oy!

  • BrianB

    ‘Adam’s a HUGE asshole.” With a bad dye job.

    I always hated this drab movie, but you guys made it all pizzazzy!

    As a budding little homo, I shared a room on our farm with 3 brothers. Guess who had to clean it! Oh! And when the electric blanket short circuited and burned the mattress one day while we were at school, guess who got blamed for the STRAIGHT porn magazine found under the mattress by my Mother! Thank God I never had to chop wood! Or wear long johns! Well, actually, long johns can be fun with the right person……

    But I digress…

    There was nothing remotely exotic about this movie for me, I could never figure out the point in making a musical about this, except straight men could watch it without feeling threatened. But it did spawn “Here Comes the Brides” in the 60’s when I was in the middle of my Bobby Sherman crush so I guess there’s always a silver lining!

    But from now on I’ll be able to watch this movie and with your words in the back of my mind, actually enjoy it!


  • Young offender

    I’m gonna have to watch this because without having seen it, I can’t tell what part of the synopsis is actually part of the movie, and which part is your own concoction…it’s too freakin hilarious for me not to go look for it at Blockbuster tonight.

    Is “barn raising” a euphamism for something else, like “pitching a tent?” Just wondering….

    “moisten at the sight of these shaved oddities.”
    –HAHAHAHAHAHA, good grief, you guys have NO shame! Love ya!


  • Young offender

    Granite Janet said…
    “Rape only hurts if you fight it.”

    –OHMIGOD, Janet!!!!


  • Anonymous

    “I used to watch this movie with my grandmother when I was a little girl and think to myself, “So THAT’S how you get a husband.”
    OMG toran23, me toooooooo! And I had lingering nostalgia for it………..till I read the boys’ commetary. Hilarious

  • pyramus

    Janet’s “rape only hurts if you fight it” is a reference to a vile student-newspaper editorial by some douchebag, as referenced in

    (you may need to cut and paste that URL).

    In other news, I’ve never seen “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”, and reading Tom and Lorenzo’s summary makes it clear that I have to see this movie immediately. At least I’ve seen “Cabaret” (repeatedly) and will get all the jokes next Monday.

  • Anonymous

    Do you think there will ever be an actual Gay Musical? Would a musical still be interesting w/out the gay subtext? What would it be about? Obviously there’s a love story, but since the subtext would then be the text, what could the new subtext contain? Gayboys, you and your readers are such erudite, literate thinkers; what are your thoughts on the 1st Gay Musical Motion Picture?

  • frogboots

    “Everyone either acts like an asshole or they’re inappropriately sexual all the time.”

    You know, it isn’t just the mountain air – this is what MY LIFE is like.

    I love this musical monday business! even though I don’t love musicals!


  • Vera

    I love Bill. Love him.

    This is a movie I’m glad I started young, because had I waited, I think I would have been too caught up in my need to have things make sense to be able to fully enjoy it.

    My best friend and I got into this huge stand-off once about which was better, Seven Brides or Calamity Jane. Neither of us had seen the other, and a few months later they were offered as a Howard Keel double feature at an old movie house in Palo Alto. I thought that while Doris Day was adorable, Calamity Jane kind of sucked, and she thought that while the boys were all hot, the “polecat” number was too cheesy for words. We almost had a catfight, but I still contend that Brides beats the pants off stupid ass Calamaity Jane any day of the week.

    You guys are going to do Kiss Me Kate, right?

  • annabelle

    She offers him stew, which in 1850 Oregon is a form of foreplay.

    As and Oregonian, I can say this still sort of applies today. But that’s only because we’re all stoners. Pudding works well too.

  • Suzanne

    The Rit dye…..I am DYING…..

  • TheQuietOne

    Oh YES! When I saw you guys were going to examine musicals, I was HOPING you would do this one. I have loved this movie since I was a kid. Thanks for the laughs as always. 🙂 Looking forward to your next installment! You two are the best.

  • aimee

    This is one of the best things I have ever read!

  • DanielDC

    “The townsmen think they look ridiculous but the ladies (fresh from their own turn in the Rit dye vat) moisten at the sight of these shaved oddities.”

    Oh no you bitches didn’t. LOL. Hilarious! I love this post!

  • Dova65

    to Bill:
    I had a Big Jim and a Big Josh doll, too. I also had the camper, in which Jim and Josh would take long trips and sleep in sleeping bags, cook over an open fire, and walk around shirtless.
    Kinda like “Brokeback Mountain” action figures.

    Love this blog.
    Love Bill’s posts.

  • Granite Janet

    Thank you, Pyramus. I was indeed using a borrowed phrase but I had forgotten where I heard it.


    When I was in Girl Scouts (7th grade), we had to listen to a tape about rape. The male narrator told us that “rape was sex when you didn’t want it.”

    I kid you not! (This was back in the 70s.)

    So I was thinking of that, too, when I made my comment.

  • brilliant

    Yawning dog said: Just like the message of ‘Grease’ is giving into peer pressure and dressing like a hooker will get you the guy of your dreams.

    Although I detect sarcasm in your comment Yawn, in reality it is the truth. I am living proof four-eyed mousy brown haired girls in demure clothing will lose out to blond haired blue eyed chicks in four inch fuckme peep toed heels, tight lowcut blouses and short skirts every time. ick. depressing. that’s enough of that.

    Let’s talk Cher!

    Bill, I love your comments. Did you have the Cher doll with the waist length hair and the hot pink halter dress? I had that one and the Sonny doll dressed in a blue and white checked shirt, vest and jeans. Ah, good times! Good times!

    Actually I still have Sonny. My mom threw out Cher when her hair got too tangled and matted. [insert Cher joke here.]

  • Gorgeous Things

    Fergit the Mountain Men, bring on the Nazis, babies!

    Wait, that kind of came out wrong….

  • Kerry


    I can’t begin to tell you how many times I watched this movie with my Grandmother during the summers I spent with her as a child. She loved Adam. She’s Mormon.

  • Esther

    I am so, so, so sad that “The Bad Seed” is not a musical. Maybe you could make it in an honorary musical somehow. *please*

  • Young offender

    Garnite Janet said….

    “The male narrator told us that “rape was sex when you didn’t want it.”

    –So basically when I’m too freakin tired and don’t want to her him bitch about it anymore and I give in to sex with my boyfriend, then it’s rape?? Sweet!

    Gorgeous Things said…
    “Fergit the Mountain Men, bring on the Nazis, babies!

    Wait, that kind of came out wrong…. “

    –AHAHAHA, that’s so funny!

  • Vic

    Well, I must say this recap is a thousand times funnier than the movie.

    I never thought about the subtext before. Now I get it!

  • madelineanne

    It really is weird how disturbing this movie is and yet it’s designed and colored likea big ole happy love fest. Weird.
    And you guys inspired a conversation about this movie yesterday. Thank you!

  • Karen

    Tears of laughter down my face.

    You guys are sehr awesome. Thanks for the laughs!

  • Karrol

    Please do South Pacific! Please? I’ll pay any amount to see what you have to say about the song “Happy Talk”.

  • pyramus

    As I said last week:

    I’ve never seen “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”, and reading Tom and Lorenzo’s summary makes it clear that I have to see this movie immediately.

    “Immediately” takes about six days in my case, because TCM showed it today and by gum, I watched it. The boys’ commentary is better than the movie itself, which 1) is profoundly weird and 2) doesn’t have even one good, let alone truly great, song in it. (Just try comparing it to “Oklahoma”, which has, at the very least, the flawless “Out Of My Dreams”.)

    “Cabaret” tomorrow! Yay!

  • Anonymous

    I watched this for the first time on TCM, like pyramus did. I thought you guys were kidding about the kidnapping, but then it happened!

    Adam really was an asshole. Yeah, Millie’s just pretending she had a kid so you would come home. Haaaaate!

  • I know the subtext is awful, but damn I love this movie.

  • rosie1843

    Why do people act as if the six girls had quickly fallen for the brothers after kidnapping them? That didn’t happen. In fact, they made the brothers suffer for their actions. And using Millie as an example, bent the Neanderthals to their way of behavior. The only real winners in this film were the women.

  • Was the pass really closed for >9 months, or are the townsmen just bad at math?

  • Directed here by The Toast (Mallory Ortberg did her own summary of this musical) — lol, good to see you had a clear read on it even back in 2007. Am off to look up some of the dancing scenes on Y ouTube.